In the beginning, man was placed in a garden to tend and keep it. This was his task of dominion over the earth, to maintain the place where God and man met face to face. What a noble and joyful purpose of life! He was called to husbandry. When Adam fell, he and all the rest of us schmoes whom he represented, were cursed and separated from communion with the Almighty. Part of that curse was destructive, unproductive and troubling plants. Bad Plants! Specifically mentioned in Genesis 3 are thorns and thistles. In the gospels, weeds or tares are mentioned as a trouble plant (Matthew 13:24+) used by one’s adversary to ruin productive work. Weeds are the bane of all gardeners, because they are part of the curse upon mankind from which Christ saves us.
Gardeners do not have to be taught that weeds are annoying. These plants are invasive, pervasive and dogged little devils. If left to their own, they are killers of fruitful plants and destroyers. I hate weeds. Everyone hates weeds. Shakespear quipped, “Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.” Weeds are no good.
Above: There’s great soil down there, but look at our weedy jungle where there used to be lovely and productive pepper plants. The son and the dog enjoy searching for critters.
In my little garden plot, three 4×16 foot raised beds, I made the foolish mistake of allowing the weeds to take over after the 2015 season. Life got busy and things were hectic. When the weeds began, I tried to overlay the whole garden with scrap carpet, carpet padding and other ‘matty’ things in a half-baked effort to retard weeds. I knew I would come back to the plots in the future, but did not want the weeds to be established.
But weeds have a way of overcoming virtually every effort, especially half-baked efforts. They are tough. My garden had half-inch woody trunks in it at the beginning of this year. All weeds. they grew through – yes, through – the carpet padding. In fact, the whole garden had so returned to un-kept earth that leopard frogs, snakes and lizards had all found a dense habitat there. I was ashamed.
Above: My new favorite tool made short work of all the other weeds. But the nutgrass? Still there. We shall overcome and make right our neglectful abuse of the ground. War on Weeds!
Having now invested a lot of work to clear these weeds, Genesis is very real. By the sweat of my brow and the toil of hard work, what was created to be my joyful calling was a harsh lesson in garden theology. In fact, these weeds, nutgrass in particular, are so nasty that they resist all efforts to eradicate them short of chemical warfare, and I can’t be using Round Up in my food gardens. I have turned the soil, cultivated with a grubhoe and chopped everything to bits, hoping the bits would die and naturally compost away. If you chop me to bits, I am not coming back to torment you. But if you have battled nutgrass, you know what happened. Every tiny piece of root, stem or leaf, seed or slight microscopic piece of the plant became a new weed overnight. Every single bit. Don’t chop this stuff up.
See that photo above? Chopped up Nutgrass, then you might notice the tops – burned off. Yet they live. Look at that crazy root system. Every last millimeter of those roots can spawn new weeds if chopped up.
So then I figured I would kill it with fire. So out came the faithful propane weed torch. This thing is like a propane jet engine at the end of a wand. It is fun to use and makes one laugh out loud with the vigor of a mad scientist. I burned all these nutgrass shoots until they were all gone, level with the earth, hoping that the fire trauma would be enough to kill them. If you burn me to bits, that’s it, game over, man. But the next day, they had risen an inch above the scorched earth in a wounded but proud manner, as if to mock me. I was dumbfounded, I could not believe my eyes. Nutgrass!
There is nothing to do but pull them one by one, by the sweat of the brow. Genesis is true. And that is a cursed activity I hate.
Once my plants are in place in the garden and established, the only thing that will help keep these weeds in check is a thick layer of mulch. I will use whatever I can source easily, mostly grass clippings from my lawn, but I will supplement with leaves and maybe even some straw. Remember Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (emphasis mine)
Even my faithful ally in the war on weeds, a thick mat of mulch, will allow some demon weeds through so that I do not forget The Curse. But it will be far more easy to pull those several weeds through a layer of mulch. These weeds will have struggled just to peek out into sunlight. They will have overcome adversity caused by the smothering mulch, but will not be well-established when they appear. They will be simple matters to deal with and will usually pull up simply with little resistance, roots and all.
Good will always triumph with a wise application of mulch. All the other weeds buried beneath the mulch will struggle, and hopefully die a slow and miserable death as they run out of life-giving resources and return to the sulfurous pit from whence they came. The plague of weeds can, actually, come to an end. But it requires the continual tending of the gardener. It requires ongoing attention. This is a lesson, a very good lesson. Let him who has ears hear.
Better to stay on top of weeds than to lose control of once-cultivated earth. Take heed, kill the weeds.
Here are some videos that give a good look at this weed. As I learn more about this nemesis, I have come to respect and even admire this determined foe. Have a look: